'Our right to rebel' - extinction protest blocks Auckland street

April 17, 2019

'Our right to rebel' - extinction protest blocks Auckland street

Climate activists block traffic at a busy intersection in the Auckland CBD. Photo: Sehej Khurana

Environmental activists disrupted traffic on the corner of Queen and Victoria streets in the Auckland CBD yesterday, calling for stronger action from the Government on climate change.

Extinction Rebellion members formed an X at the intersection, stopping vehicles from passing through as they held signs and chanted.

Unhappy drivers responded by honking at the protestors, with one car pushing through the group and almost hitting participant Scarlett Parkes.

Ms Parkes said she felt afraid but the cause was important enough to put herself at risk.

“Climate change has everyone’s bodies on the line and it has the most vulnerable people in our society on the line, much more than me,” she said.

The group blocked the road three times and the police were called after the first round.

Catherine Bircher, who travelled from the Waikato to take part, was almost arrested when a police officer caught her tagging the pavement with chalk paint.

“The policeman thought we were damaging public property and that’s fair enough, but this was not a permanent tag and we’ve got to raise awareness.

"We’ve got to do things that make people sit up and pay attention ‘cause if we just sit meekly we’re going to be led to our doom, like sheep,” she said.

The group’s media liaison Ms Dempsey said getting arrested was not on today’s agenda but would be soon.

“We will be doing actions in which people are going to be willing to get arrested. Probably in a month or two.”

She says people being willing to go to prison shows how important their cause is.

The activists are set on nonviolent civil disobedience to get attention.

“We’ve done enough of marching up and down Queen Street. We’re now going to disrupt society as often as we can.”

She says the Government’s inaction is failing to protect the people, giving them “a right to rebel".

Extinction Rebellion wants politicians to declare a state of climate emergency, introduce policies to tackle rising emissions, and protect New Zealanders from sea level rise and storm surges.

Ms Dempsey said she was waiting on the release of the Zero Carbon Bill but was expecting it would be “very conservative".

Seasoned activist Phil McNeale said climate change was the most important cause she had fought for.

“Whatever issues you work on, if there’s no climate, if there’s no world as we know it, they’re useless,” she said.

The group’s action is a part of the international week of rebellion, with its next event on April 20 at Okahu Beach.

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